For the last few years, I’ve intentionally tried to experience Holy Week by reading from the bible exactly what it says Jesus was doing each day. Yesterday, you know, was Palm Sunday and the “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. All Jews, made the yearly pilgrimage back to the Temple there to make sacrifices and receive forgiveness from their sins (yep).
On Jesus’ way to the temple Monday morning, we find a curious story of the Fig tree. Most likely, you’ve heard it before. Jesus; hungry, walks up to the not-in-season fig tree and finding it barren curses it. It dies.
Now, this is a pretty intense Jesus. We all love the let-the-little-children-come-to-me Jesus, but I think this story is more than meets the eye with implications reaching as far as you and I. [that rhymed]
Figs are the fruit of the Fig tree. The purpose of the fig tree– any tree– is to bear fruit. What’s more, the fig is a biblical/historical symbol of wealth, provision, abundance, safety, security, even prosperity for Israel; the chosen people of God. At least, that’s what I found in my research.
You see where this is going, right?
Jesus came to reconcile us back to God. His life showed us exactly what Life looks like when that reconciliation occurs — it’s the life we were created to know in the garden before sin. And the rescue plan included a people, the Jews; blessed to be a blessing so the whole world might be saved.
As early as 12 years old, we see Him course-correcting these wayward people through the scriptures that point only to Him. He didn’t picket, set up a new denomination, or “abolish the old systems.” He came to fulfill.
There are simply too many references to list here either showing Jesus teaching in the synagogues of the towns he visited or back in Jerusalem participating the religious festival and feasts. Even after His resurrection, the disciples and other followers of Jesus “continued going to the Temple daily” as they had done with Jesus.
In spite of the three years of miracles and teaching throughout Israel, ultimately, the Jews rejected their Messiah, and Jesus knew it before the shouts of “crucify” were ever on their lips. Just as the fig tree failed to bear fruit, so did Israel. Their purpose was to know God and make Him known in the whole earth, only when He actually came as He promised they were too busy still waiting.
It could have been so different. Even though that fig tree was “not-in-season” the One who was hungry wouldn’t ask for fruit if He weren’t ready to create it.
But we get to write another story. The Church is the new Israel, and Jesus is the vine who lays down his life so we might bear the fruit of Life, abundantly. All we have to do is “abide” in Him (Jn. 15)and He’ll bear the fruits of His spirit in our lives.
If you want to read through Holy Week in the scriptures, click here.